LONDON — Unless you were named Ryan Lochte, Monday was a good day in the pool for the U.S. swim team.
Missy Franklin shrugged off the pressure of the most-important swim final of her 17-year-old life — and a tight time schedule — to win her first Olympic gold medal, taking the 100-meter backstroke in 58.33 seconds at the Aquatics Centre.
"It is exceeding my expectations by a hundred billion times. When you dream about something your whole life and you achieve it ... you don't totally understand until you achieve it," said Franklin, who had less than 20 minutes to prepare for the backstroke after barely qualifying for today's 200-meter freestyle final.
Emily Seebohm of Australia (58.68) was second in the backstroke and Aya Terakawa of Japan (58.83) finished third.
The U.S. men also had success in the 100-meter backstroke with Matt Grevers and teammate Nick Thoman finishing 1-2 Monday.
Using every inch of his 6-foot-8 frame, Grevers stretched his long arms out to win in a time of 52.16 seconds, an Olympic record and just 0.22 outside the world record set by Aaron Peirsol.
Thoman finished in 52.92 and Japan'sRyosuke Irie got the bronze medal.
"I feel incredible," Grever said. "It was something I've wanted since I was 10 years old. I came so close in '08, getting silver. When Aaron Peirsol (the 2008 gold-medal winner) announced his retirement, I knew it was a great opportunity for me to step in those shoes and hopefiully get a gold medal and I did it."
Grevers' victory was a family celebration, with his parents, brother and sister all in attendance.
"I think someone upgraded their seats," Grevers said. "I was looking for them in the top row because that's where they were. It was empowering for me to see them there with me on the sidelines. It was awesome that I got to celebrate with them at the end. That was not for me, it was for the whole family."
On finishing 1-2 with teammate Thoman, Grevers said, "I must be selfish. It took me a good 10 seconds to realize he got second and that's something I should do right away. When I noticed it (on the scoreboard), the moment became that much more special."
American Rebecca Soni, the reigning world champion in the 100-meter breastroke, tried to catch Lithuanian teenager Ruta Meilutyte Monday, but fell a fingertip short and settle for silver.
The 15-year-old Meilutyte not only became the first swimmer from her country to win an Olympic medal she did it in under extraordinary circumstances.
The start, a time when swimmers are already battling their nerves, was delayed by a technical malfunction that saw the starter's gun go off before he had called "on your marks". American Breeja Larson dived into the pool on the gun but was able to race because of the malfunction.
The eight finalists sat down while the problem was fixed and an unfazed Meilutyte still got off the blocks fastest and led at the turn but then had to survive a fierce challenge from Soni. The more experienced Soni drew level in the final few strokes but Meilutyte kept her cool and got her hands on the wall first in one minute, 05.47 seconds.
Soni was second in 1:05.55 while Japan's Satomi Suzuki finished third in 1:06.46.
By any measure, it has been an incredible 24 hours for French swimmer Yannick Agnel at the London Olympics. Actually, less than 24 hours.
On Monday, he won the men's 200-meter freestyle with relative ease in 1:43.14. Tying for the silver were Taehwan Park of South Korea and Sun Yang of China, who both passed Lochte in the final 50 meters.
Lochte was fourth in 1:45.04. He had been attempting to win his second individual gold medal of the London Games.
On Sunday Agnel turned in an incredible anchor leg to boost the French relay team to an upset of the United States in the 400-meter freestyle relay. He passed Lochte in the final few meters to secure the win.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun